All of Benjamin’s life people have commented on his eyelashes.
“They’re from his father,” I say. They are amazing. Like little butterfly wings.
He also has his father’s body – his shoulders, his legs, his torso and even his little butt. But he has my smile, my eyes and my eyebrows. Like any mother, I day dream about what kind of a man Benjamin will become. But unlike most mothers, I hope against all hopes that, aside from the physical resemblance, that my son is nothing like his father.
His father is the mysterious man who shows up once a week to pick him up for an overnight. We barely know each other any more. I can’t even remember what it felt like to be in love with him – I must have been delusional, I think. There’s nothing there now. Nothing at all. Just a shadow of the girl I used to be… a naive girl who would fall for a man and marry him on a whim because he needed a Green card.
Here’s the thing, when you’re a little girl and you dream of that damn prince and the castle you forget to dream about how he’ll be as a father. At least I did.
This dream surfaces, for some of us, in the form of a blinding nightmare because it’s after we’ve already had his child. And it dawns on us that we’ve bred with a rotten apple, a dud, a bad father.
But how do you tell what kind of a father a man will be until he is actually tested? How do you really know? I’m not sure if I have the answer. But I think it starts by measuring how they love you, how they treat the future mother of their children.
On Christmas morning – after he opened his stocking and a massive Thomas track from Grandma…
Benjamin’s eyelash donor showed up to take him for the night.
My mother, had been mumbling her protest to the idea all morning, “He’s too sick! Tell him he’s too sick. He can’t take him on Christmas.”
“I know, Mom. I know. But he is his father. He gets to see him on Christmas.”
She shook her head, unable to comprehend having to share her child with a virtual stranger. Sharing your child, if you think about it, is not a natural experience for any mother.
Thirty minutes later Benjamin was cuddled in his father’s arms, ready to go and eagerly shouting his name.
But his father had ignored him twice now – too busy talking our ears off with another one of his stories. I had trained myself long ago to listen to these narratives without interrupting. You just have to listen and nod your head, it’s really fucked up.
And if you want something, you have to ask very, very nicely.
So I did. Because I wanted my kid with me on Christmas night.
“You know what?” I say as sweetly as possible, “Why don’t I come get him at 4:30. I don’t think he should stay at your place because we’ve been so sick.”
“Yeah. Okay,” he says, “We wanted to spend some time alone tomorrow anyway.”
We being he and his girlfriend.
It’s funny. Because after all of this time I still expect something from him, some kind of protest, some kind of sentence like, “But I haven’t seen him in a week” or “I really want to take him to this cool park I found.”
Five hours later I bust out of my sick funk to go pick up Benjamin at his father’s place – technically his girlfriend’s place. She opens the door for me. Inside it’s dark and small. I can’t imagine living here with him. Our old town house had been four times this size and, even there, I couldn’t hide from him. Here, she had no where – not a solitary inch of the place to herself.
She’s still as frail and as beat down as she was the first time we met. I can tell she’s scared of him and unlike me, unable to stand up for herself.
Benjamin hadn’t eaten or napped while he was there and he passed out in my car within seconds it seemed. Utterly exhausted. We both were. It’s draining. It really is… especially when you’re so damn sick.
We still are by the way. I don’t even know how many days it’s been now. But now, Benjamin has passed his flu on to me. So it’s a cold and flu for Mommy while he just has the remnants of the flu. I’m just hoping at this point I’ll be able to work on Monday. I would call his father but I know there’s nothing he would do… believe me, I’ve called before.
Maybe I should move to Alaska or something.